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Money For Nothing – Chicks For Free


A thread popped up over at Jungle Punks about making music and getting paid for it. I think we can all agree that we got into music for the love of it but we all want to be paid and we all expect to be paid. How much we get paid is something else again. Regardless, I think most of us would continue to make music if money was suddenly taken out the equation.

I’ve moved those comments over here.

54 thoughts on “Money For Nothing – Chicks For Free”

  1. My opinion, you guys are being baited and daverock caught him some biggies. lol πŸ™‚
    I wouldn’t have given him the time of day just based on his tone alone.

  2. Sure, I’d like some hard facts and your valuable information. Post a link to your music. Break down your numbers i.e. how many cues you have, how many libraries you are in, exclusive or non etc.

    How long did it take you to earn over 100k. Bring it on!!

    I think this time you should respond in a timely manner, don’t wait weeks to respond then claim you were “away” In this day and age there is no such thing!!

  3. “Thats why we keep saying it’s a game of quantity.”

    Oh dear.

    As I’ve said before, in general, I suggest people be wary of advice which is not backed up with actions (posting recent examples of music). That’s the only yardstick worth anything IMO. It’s rife on forums – everyone’s an expert but no one backs it up. But it’s your careers guys so do your research rather than listening to some anonymous dudes on a forum.

    This is a ridiculous statement and as I’ve said, there is a helluva lot of misinformation posted on here. I would very much like to post some hard facts but I know they’d only get deleted.

    Seems if you’re not one of the clique you get deleted. My poll vote where I stated I earnt more than 100k – that got deleted which is just plain weird and to mind my, very unethical. It was there for a day or two then disappeared.

    If you want a community that just consists of 5 or 6 guys patting each other on the back but not telling it how it really is then fine. It’s a cosy little hangout for sure but not at all representative of the library world I inhabit.

    If you’d like a dose of reality, hard facts and valuable info from someone who is doing well then let me know. I can back it up with links to my music if needs be.

    • Pretty harsh statement. In any case, you sound like you have some solid ideas about licensing music. I would like to learn more objective ways to increase my earnings. If you have any straightforward advice and any hard facts, please send them my way. My contact info is in my name. Thanks.

    • @Dave Rock:
      You sound pretty cocky to me.Give it up and give us the facts otherwise
      you are not credible. I’ve read some of your other posts and seen the responses
      and I take what most of the other composers and owners of pub. companies say
      more than you,period.

      • Dan P, I do not think arguing or gettng angry is very productive. I already got in trouble here for calling somebody out, so I don’t want you to get in trouble. You may have a valid point, but it isn’t worth it to get embarrassed. Dave Rock may or may not have the goods, but let’s give him the chance to show and prove.

        Here is a quick link to a song I made: http://www.zshare.net/video/9720058233b4e22b/

    • daverock, your statements are as ridiculous as some of the statements you claim others make. No one deleted your “vote” for your “supposedly” $100k earnings. I’m the only one that runs this site so I can assure that never happened. Your statement that post are deleted if you are not part of a “clique” is just plain idiotic. The only time a post will get deleted is if someone resorts to name calling or contributes nothing but “noise”. Now, let’s see those links to your music you are bragging about.

      • Thanks Art;
        Much respect for the wisdom imparted here @MLR.
        THis guy is the Ubertrollsky.I need not get emotionally
        swayed and Happy New Year!

  4. Seems like a few of you have had success. I’m curious are these with exclusive libraries or non-exclusive libraries. I’ve been communicating with about 10 and I need to make a decision. Exclusive or non-exclusive. I understand the difference but which one is more profitable.

    Also I’m trying to pay the fee to join, I’ve tried 3 cards and they all work but your site is no accepting them.

    • Hi Jeffrey, most people have a mixture of exclusive and non-exclusive deals and all of this has been discussed here before. Try a search and you should find more info.

      Sorry you are having problems signing up. Credit cards are processed by PayPal and on PayPal’s site so if they are not going through you should contact your cc company and find out why. I just tried it using PayPal and it worked for me.

    • It depends on the library, not whether its exclusive or non-exclusive. My best performer right now is an exclusive library, but over all non-exclusive libraries have been much more successful for me.

      I have signed music with 5 exclusive libraries. One of them I just signed with this year and they are a new company, so I can’t fairly judge their performance. I was paid $100 per track up front though, so I have made some good money from them. Of the others that I have been with for several years, only one makes me a significant amount of money every quarter (about 90 tracks with them), one makes me about $60-$100 per quarter (about 25 tracks with them), one has made me about $75 over 3 or 4 years (6 tracks with them), and the other hasn’t made me a dime over a period of 2 or 3 years (27 tracks with them).

      I’ve signed music with 7 non-exclusive libraries. 1 has made me nothing over about a year (about 32 tracks with them), 1 made me about $30 over 2 years (20 tracks with them), 1 has made me about $1,000 or so over a 1 year period (2 co-written vocal tracks signed with them), and the others have been making me consistent money every quarter. 3 of which I have seen consistent growth in quarterly income. Sometimes doubling or even tripling. Most of the non-exclusive deals I have signed got my music placed very quickly.

      I’m not trying to sway you one way or the other really, I’m just trying to help you understand that any of those deals you have been offered could be big winners or big losers. Some people will tell you that exclusive libraries are the way to go because that is where THEY have made a lot of money. But its different for everybody. That exclusive library I’m signed with that makes me thousands of dollars every quarter has other writers who only make a few hundred dollars per quarter or even nothing at all. One of the non-exclusive libraries that I write for that only makes me a few hundred dollars every quarter makes a friend of mine well over $100,000 per year. You never know what library is going to be “lucky” for you. Its kind of a trial and error thing unfortunately.

      One thing I will tell you is that *I* wouldn’t sign more than about 10 tracks with an exclusive library unless you are being paid an upfront production fee or you have been told by another composer that that particular library gets a ton of placements and has a stellar track record.

      • You get the most interesting post of the day award from where I stand. I just signed my first exclusive. Only two songs. Hard to give up all those non-exclusive chances and instead putting all the proverbial eggs in one basket but as you said, I’ve read many times that it’s best to have both.
        Got my first check for $125 for a Jinglepunks placement where I only have 20 cues. Nothing from the others.
        Now I just send a link to the cues to a RF library so maybe I’ll have something going across the board and a chance to make a little money in the nearer term…..maybe.

      • Holy crap. $100 per track upfront is less than I was getting 15 years ago!
        Oh well..at least it’s money upfront.

        When you say “non-exclusive” are you referring to the re-title “licensing agent” model, or the royalty free model?

        Thanks for the info Stephen.



        • “Holy crap. $100 per track upfront is less than I was getting 15 years ago!”

          Yeah, the library owner admitted that it was “not much.” But its a new library with a lot of potential and with most exclusive deals these days not offering ANYTHING for instrumentals I thought it was a pretty decent deal. Plus, its not a typical buyout where the writer surrenders all of the sync fees. I still get half of all sync fees. And I am super grateful to have that chunk of change in my bank account right now!

          “When you say “non-exclusive” are you referring to the re-title “licensing agent” model, or the royalty free model?”

          I was referring to non-exclusive re-title “licensing agent” type libraries that pitch to television and advertising, not royalty free libraries.


  5. Is it just me or am I seeing things right? It seems that a lot of the recent library postings have what to me is a disturbing number of them taking the lions share of the split. 30/70, 40/60, etc.

    A lot of this seems to me to be backwards. We as composers produce and have what the libraries and music supervisors want. Yet we are the ones that do not set down the terms or how much we sell our product for in most cases. It is to me a upside down business model that we have to deal with.

    I know there is nothing we can do about it. But it just kind of upsets me that just because you know someone that can include your music in to media, build a web site and can store music, that you charge the people that produce your product and control what they can and can not do with their product.

    I’m just venting here a little folks. This just seems to be a bit bass akwards to me.

      • “A lot of this seems to me to be backwards. We as composers produce and have what the libraries and music supervisors want. Yet we are the ones that do not set down the terms or how much we sell our product for in most cases. It is to me a upside down business model that we have to deal with.”

        Hi SteveB,

        I actually tried to leave a more detailed response earlier today, but it got lost. It’s really easy for musicians to make emotional judgements when it comes to the business end of things, especially if we’re “close” to our product.

        Here are the hard facts, when it comes to 99.9% of library writers and wannabe library writers: yes, we “produce and have what the libraries and music supervisors want,” but there are far too many of us doing and trying to do it. It’s simply matter of supply and demand. You don’t want a 40/60 split? There are a 1000 writers who can do what you (and I) can do, who will be happy to take those numbers.

        But…to put it into perspective, have you ever had a record deal? It’s been a while since I lectured on this topic (it’s been a while since there was a “record” business). In a typical recording contract, the artist got an advance to make their record. The advance was recoverable against sales. So, the record company advances you $100,000 and you make your record. Then the record company sells your record/CD to a distributor for around $7.50. The distributor then sells your record/CD to a retailer for about $9.00. The retailer then sells the record/CD to the consumer for $18.00 (remember those days?). What do you get paid as the artist? Not much, unless you were the songwriter. The song writer gets mechanical royalties. It used to be about $.092 per song. So, if you wrote ten songs on an album, you got about $.92 (92 cents) for every record manufactured, or about 5%. Compare that to getting 40% from a library!

        Oh, and what did the poor recording artist get? Once you subtract the advance, the cost of packaging and whatever else, the artist often ended up owing the label!

        Now, as to what you can do: I’ve said this before and it’s worth repeating. Your library catalog is like an investment portfolio. Some investments yield more than others. You cannot change or set the library split anymore than you can change the interest rate that your bank pays, or the value of any stock shares that you own. But what you CAN do is decide WHERE to put your investments.

        On a practical level, figure out how much you want to make per hour — $50. Let’s say it takes you 12 hours to produce a cue. That $600 of your time. How many times would you need to sell that track to make $600? Well, $600 is 40% of $1,500. If the track sells for between $35 and $50, you’d need to sell it between 30 and 42 times to make your $600.
        It seems awfully hard to make a living. But, it’s a business of averages. On some tracks, just one license will make thousands of dollars, plus backend. Thats why we keep saying it’s a game of quantity. The high end part of your portfolio balances out the low end.

        I’ve been assuming that you’re talking about non-exclusive no money upfront libraries. It’s not that different when you’re getting paid upfront money (which usually means NO sync fee split and you give up the copyright). Some libraries pay $1,000 per track, some $500, and some $200. Still, you choose how to manage what you do and for whom.

        OK, it’s late and i’m rambling.



        • To add to MichaelL’s thoughts, I think you also have to evaluate the deal in terms of the value that is created for you through it. For instance, I see virtually no value in 99% of these spring-up-overnight retitle websites trying to cut in on the action.

          OTOH, a major established exclusive library that actively works its catalogue, has a strong track record, maintains fruitful relationships with end users such as editors and supervisors, does the mixing and mastering, and offers 40% synch split to the composer, is creating real value.

          I know you’re venting, and I commiserate. Unfortunately, I think we’re faced with the uphill battle of restoring value to music as a commodity that actually creates indispensable factors in productions rather than it being seen as the disposable paper sachet holding the sugar for the coffee: ie. a dispensable ‘extra’.

          • Hi Rob,

            Thanks for your thoughtful addition.

            “Unfortunately, I think we’re faced with the uphill battle of restoring value to music as a commodity that actually creates indispensable factors in productions rather than it being seen as the disposable paper sachet holding the sugar for the coffee: ie. a dispensable ‘extra’.”

            I think that the “disposable” issue is a byproduct of the sheer amount of music being produced by library writers (much of it bad), and by the desperateness of of writers to get a “placement.” Once you’re in that position, oversupply and desperation, you have no bargaining power.

            Writing production music for film & television used to be something different that relatively few people could, or wanted, to do. That’s changed and everyone is trying it. Hence, it’s value is diminished in the market. It’s like anything else, the more rare it is the more value it has. As long as the market remains flooded, value is not likely to return.



            • Hey MichaelL,

              I agree of course! Basic market economics. However, even in saturated markets, some product/service providers stand out by their quality and commitment to the end user. If we don’t place value on our efforts, no-one else will. I don’t want to join the race to the bottom. I’d prefer to quit the business side of it and make music for pleasure before that.

              • I agree Rob. Maybe I have placed more value on my stuff than others think it worth. I’m just not willing to “race to the bottom” either and won’t.

                Like Strauss said “I may not be a first-rate composer, but I am a first-class second-rate composer.”

                • Hi Steve,

                  “Maybe I have placed more value on my stuff than others think it worth. I’m just not willing to “race to the bottom” either and won’t.”

                  I don’t know your music. But, don’t be too hard on yourself.
                  I think that the race to the bottom has more to do with selling tracks for $1.50 instead of $50-$100, than the split ratio.

                  I think that Rob is correct. Don’t compromise on quality and your work will stand out.

                  Don’t be discouraged. Pick up the guitar, or sit at the piano and do what you do, the best that you can.

                  Best of luck,


        • Thanks for all your “Rambling” Michael. I was frustrated with things that day I posted and the first place I thought of to vent was here, because I felt that you all would understand and most likely have felt that way at times yourselves.

          Yes, I was talking about the Non-exclusive libraries. I understand why the exclusive ones would portion it out that way.

          Again thanks for the detailed reply, appreciate it.

          • First of all, a huge thanks for the insightful posts here.
            I know you are discussing music libraries, but I wonder how this works with sites such as kompoz.com. You publish your music under the site’s terms, but get full rights to make revenue from licensing. You pay a fee (less than 5 bucks) to publish, though.

            What’s your view on this? Any success?

  6. Yes, yes, payment is wonderful and, to an extent, a measure of our success as musicians. Yet, some of my best work has come from working with young film makers who can barely cover my studio expenses. Their courage in embracing their art form and fresh approach to story-telling invigorates.

    • You hit the nail on the head Art. The money is icing on the cake but just having the music accepted on it’s own merit by those actually willing to pay for using it is a huge psychological boost especially in such a competitive field.

      • Actually I feel that way about any track that I sell. Out of the thousands of composers and many many thousands of tracks they pick yours….It’s pretty cool.

    • I agree it’s a miracle our music gets used at all out of the millions of available tracks. I don’t agree that bragging rights and being able to say “my music was on a TV show” makes up for any lack of compensation. I’m not sure if that is what is being said here, but remember, we deserve to get paid! The money is not icing, or a bonus. It is rightfully ours. We have the skill, equipment, and knowledge to create this product and should be making much more. Why aren’t we? Over supply for one. But also because too many composers settle for whatever they can get and even often provide product for free. And none of us can compete with “free”. Okay, flame away… πŸ™‚

        • You’ve said it well Michael! Let’s collectively stop giving music away for free! I’m a little guilty as Beatpick allows non-commercial free usage. It has gotten a little out of hand recently as that is 90% of what I license there, so I think I’m going to disallow the use. (Sorry Art-I know this is for JP not Beatpick-but I thought it was relevant).

          I too got my first check from JP yesterday for $250. I’ve had a few cable tv placements with them, but this was my first check in the mail. I’ve been with them for about a year and a half.


      • Bragging rights “instead of” getting paid was not meant to be implied here implied here at least not from me.
        I always felt I deserved it but that doesn’t mean I’ll get it. That’s the miracle and the icing on the cake for me. I try and keep my expectations a bit grounded.

      • Hi Michael, no I’m not going to “flame-out,” but I will say NEVER say never.

        I’ve had free, or nearly free, turn into over 100K in royalties (and that’s only 50% of what I should have made!), and its still growing.

        I could have turned down the opportunity, and it would have been one of the biggest mistakes of my life! The money that I’ve made, so far, is 100 times more than what I would have charged for the original writing job. Plus, I’ve been able to renegotiate my position (it helps to be a lawyer).

        You need to be smart about your opportunities and thoroughly evaluate the TOTAL income potential before your pride says no, or you walk away on principle, and you lose out. It’s not one size fits all.

        ’nuff said.



        • >NEVER say never.<

          But you just said it twice!. Ok, old joke sorry, couldn't help it. πŸ™‚

          Very good point, be smart about your opportunities. Composers need to realize that it will not be smart to accept some of the opportunities being offered these days.

          • “Composers need to realize that it will not be smart to accept some of the opportunities being offered these days.”

            I couldn’t agree more. That’s why writers need to be very careful, and preferably seek the counsel of an attorney before you sign on the dotted line. See my response to Rosco’s copyright question.

            That said, recognizing the difference between exploitation and opportunity is probably one of the keys to success in this business. Unfortunately, too many writers see every carrot as an opportunity.

            • Yeah, I saw that earlier today. A non-exclusive deal that’s a work for hire? Made no sense at all.

              >recognizing the difference between exploitation and opportunity is probably one of the keys to success in this business.<

              Well put. I hope that the more experience we all get the easier it becomes to tell the difference.

      • Of course you are right Michael. The point is we all would most likely be making music anyway. Money just adds that extra kick. When I got that very nice, unexpected, check from Jingle Punks it certainly incetivized me!

        • You just said what I was trying to say. I’ve always done music and without intentions of making money but because it makes me tick. I would continue making music if I never saw a dime and the world doesn’t owe me a thing hence, getting paid is icing on the cake.

          • If you want to be an ‘artist’ and make music, go ahead and good luck to you, you can get the odd placement and feel great about it. Personally speaking we do music for a living, teaching,writing,playing and writing,writing and…..writing. As a media composer I expect to get paid (one way or another, either through synch fees or backend) for what I do. This is not a vanity gig, it is paying the rent and putting food on the table. You would not ask a plumber to fix your toilet and then not pay him would you?

            • I don’t make music for a living so obviously I can’t speak as one who does. I also don’t mean to imply that somebody who makes music for a living and wants to get paid should do it for free.
              If you make music for a living and that’s what you rely on and you can do that, more power to you.

              • >If you make music for a living and that’s what you rely on and you can do that, more power to you<

                Hi Pat, I know you are not one of them so this not directed at you. Just in general, the problem is that there are writers out there who would give their music to a website for "exposure" only, or custom score a video for free or next to nothing. There's a lot of them actually. What they do hurts the guys out there who have been making a living from music.

                But I guess we have to adapt. That's just the way it is, mostly because of the ease of creation offered by today's computers and software.

                • That makes sense Michael. I not interested in the kind of scenarios you mentioned and agree that it cheapens the product.
                  In my book,these libraries who license music for $10 are the same as free also. I stay clear of them also.

          • >I would continue making music if I never saw a dime and the world doesn’t owe me a thing <

            Hi Pat, but the world does owe you. You put in time, energy and money to learn your craft. You are owed for your skills.

            Let me ask you, would you allow someone to profit off the use of your music without compensating you at all? Say a commercial website wanted to use your music on their home page. They told you no pay, no royalties, no chance of ever making a dime, but great exposure. Would you let them?

            • Ofcourse not. That would be the same as saying my music isn’t worth anything. That is not what I said.
              I said I would make music for my enjoyment whether I got paid or not. Shopping it around in the hopes of “Licensing” it to others for their use is a horse of a different paint job. I think maybe we’re getting a little too literal here just for the sake of conversation.

              • At this stage and a nearly a divorce.
                I am in it for the money. Period
                Maybe, I will get back to the ole doing for the love. But not right now.
                I am on a paper-chase. lol


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